WATCH: Tsitsipas visited the Tennis Channel Live Desk following his three-set win over Cristian Garin.

MIAMI—There is a cinematic way to which Stefanos Tsitsipas, tennis player and aspiring filmmaker, sees the world. Where others would make their second attempt at Sunshine success into a clean slate, the two-time Grand Slam finalist went full tabula rasa after crash-landing into the BNP Paribas Open with a shoulder injury.

“I just played the game as I did when I first I first started playing it,” he told me of his Miami Open reset, one which yielded a decisive, if grueling, victory over Cristian Garin at the Hard Rock Stadium.

“I don’t think I was overthinking or visualizing too much, there,” he continued. “It was quite enjoyable out there, even when it got tough.”

Tennis wasn’t much fun two weeks ago, even if he was playing on one of his favorite courts. He came to his Media Day press conference without any pretense of expectations, later suggesting that he only played to avoid an ATP ranking penalty. A closer reading of the rule—and clarification from the ATP communications team—yielded further stipulation that at least part of the penalty would, in fact, have been suspended had he completed “requirements for ‘promotional activities’” or otherwise “complied with the requirements for an on-site withdrawal.”

Unsure of what he and his injury-addled body could accomplish between now and the clay-court season, Tsitsipas got an ironic reprieve in the form of a walkover from Richard Gasquet, giving him just under three full weeks to recover from his last match, an opening-round Indian Wells defeat to Jordan Thompson.


“It has definitely been about rest and recuperating, just making sure everything functions and works properly,” he said in Monday’s mixed zone. “I’ve had to deal with a lot of pain, and I had to play with it. So, it was completely natural for me not to put any expectations on myself because I think I would have been completely crazy if I did—and inhumane, as well.”

Often a poet, other times a plagiarist, the man with the beastly backhand has long preferred the purple mountains majesty on offer in the California desert. Still, he used the extra time in Florida to reacquaint himself with a city he never thought matches his more introverted style.

“I’ve been trying to align with the vibe of Miami for the last few days,” he mused, wearing a t-shirt printed with palm trees and dotted with sweat. “I’ve been sort of on a site, training hard-vacation mode, which has been fun. It has introduced me to some new Miami vibes and feelings that you get from the city.”

He continued with a mise-en-scène for this new narrative arc.

“I’ve developed a better relationship with Miami. The last couple of years I didn’t really know what you’re supposed to do here, but I definitely started to be keener and more open to the idea of making Miami one of my biggest best friends.”

This plot twist should hardly come as a surprise to those familiar with Tsitsipas, who is as much artist as cultural connoisseur.

“I very much like going to Wynwood Walls; that’s definitely my type of thing,” he smiled as he evoked imagery of the district’s famous pop art graffiti. “I do enjoy gastronomy and culinary experiences, so Brickell is a perfect place for that. Fisher Island has been a good destination, both for my tennis and also for the relaxation that I’ve mentioned. During tournaments, these places keep me feeling very much alive.”


I’ve developed a better relationship with Miami. The last couple of years I didn’t really know what you’re supposed to do here, but I definitely started to be keener and more open to the idea of making Miami one of my biggest best friends. Stefanos Tsitsipas

This proverbial second wind couldn’t have come at a better time for Tsitsipas, who began the season with a 10-match winning streak and runner-up finish at the Australian Open—surging ahead of flagging contemporaries like Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev. The following month saw a reversal of fortunes as the Greek star endured an early loss in Rotterdam, where Medvedev caught fire and won 19 straight matches through the BNP Paribas Open final.

Striking 12 aces against Garin, the Tsitsipas shoulder appears to have stabilized in time for a mouth-watering round of 16 against Olympic silver medalist Karen Khachanov, a rematch of their Melbourne semifinal.

But where Tsitsipas only saw this movie ending one way a month ago, the 24-year-old is now decidedly in the midst of a re-write—one that could shake up the tournament’s status quo.

“I’m working my way through,” he sighed. “You can never really feel 100%; it’s very rare that you get these moments when you’re on the tour. I’m just trying to work with whatever I have in my artillery and just put in the effort every single day when I step out on the court, whether that’s practice or even matches. This is my job and just showing up sometimes is way more important than giving up.”

His next act plays out on Grandstand Tuesday afternoon.